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He would explain. He would confess. He would tell her that there had been a plan from the moment he’d taken the throne. He would tell her that he was sorry he hadn’t trusted her with the secret.

And he would tell her that he’d always wished he’d deserved her, but that chance had grown ever more distant as the years passed. Their early closeness, joined in their mirrored effort to do what was discouraged, had dissolved away and he’d mourned that loss, while being unable to bridge it.

He would tell her he had tried, if not in any way she had understood or appreciated. He had tried so much, and it was all for nothing.

He would say that he wished that he’d died on Jotunheim. That way, nothing after that fateful trip would have happened. He’d never have known exactly how undeserving of her he was. He’d never have known how much lower he could fall.

He wanted to tell her how he’d lured Thanos into the right place to be betrayed. How he’d gathered the Stones himself to make a net of power that Thanos couldn’t escape and thrust Thanos beyond time and space, so he could never bother the Nine Realms again.

He wanted to see her eyes light up with understanding and a smile of forgiveness on her lips, to feel her fingers on his face. That she recognized and approved that he had done the right thing. That she was proud that he’d finally figured out what was important, and saving the universe started to make his wrongs right again.

But it was all too late.

She had fallen in the battle against Thanos, her blood dulling the shine of her armor and staining her glorious hair. She’d died still cursing Loki, thinking he was with Thanos, unaware of the trap Loki had set.

He knelt at her side, staring at her face in a numb silence, and he could find nothing to say.